When Bradley Wiggins wheeled to a standstill at the London Olympic velodrome after setting a new UCI Hour Record distance of 54.526 kilometres, he barely had a millisecond to ponder what he had achieved. Laps of honour, television cameras thrust at him and a hastily created jersey to celebrate the distance all had to be rolled-out in front of an in-house audience and those watching at home.
Finally, when he was brought before the waiting press on the ground floor of the velodrome and away from the sweltering conditions of the track, Wiggins spoke of satisfaction, pride and relief.
Satisfaction over the distance he had covered in an hour – although he admitted that had the air pressure been lower he could have added another 750 meters. Pride at joining an elite club of Tour de France winners who broke the record that includes Miguel Indurain and Eddy Merckx, and relief in finally completing the goal he set out to accomplish upon departing Team Sky in April.
"It's a huge relief more than anything. I was confident that I could break the record but until you actually go through the process and do it there's always that element, not doubt, but until it's done…" he said at the start of his press conference.
In truth, Wiggins achieved no more and no less what was expected of him, which in itself is a rather telling footnote to the recent indulgence of Hour Records. With Dowsett, Dennis, Bobridge and the rest the pre-match conjecture had been whether the record could be broken. With Wiggins it was a matter of by how much he could move the bar.
In conditions that were far from favourable he set about dismantling Dowsett's record lap by lap. He was under record pace from the outset and had the air pressure been lower – it was at the highest it had been in recent weeks – he could have gone above 55 kilometres.
"That's raised the bar a fair bit and for sure it will deter people and it might make them think twice about it because it's been a bit of a rush for people up until now. This is the first real big marker and I couldn't have done any more with the conditions," he said.
"I keep banging on about air pressure but it was probably the worst it's been in the last few weeks. It's as far as I could have gone in those conditions but perhaps not as far as I could have gone in my dreams or hopes had the conditions been different, but I'm satisfied."
First and last attempt?
Wiggins is fully focused on the road to Rio, the 2016 Olympic Games, and a second ride against the hour isn't in his current plans. The new record isn't unbeatable, and Wiggins has left it tantalisingly close to the realms of possibility for Dowsett, Tony Martin and possibly Fabian Cancellara to target.
"That was the best ride I could hope to do. I won't go for it again. Timing wise, this is my end of season; I'll build up from the end of July for the track.
"It's raised the bar now. Personally I'd like to see Tony and Fabian have a go at it. They don't have the track pedigree to perhaps be confident but I wouldn't discount Alex from having a look at it. I know he's like me and he'll do his homework and if he thinks it's possible he'll have a go at it. He's got another eight years to have a go at it, he's in his 20s. Fabian and Tony are running out of time.
"It would be nice for the record if someone attacks it in the next 12 months. Even if they fail it would give kudos to this record."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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